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The investigation of the interplay between professional identity and attitudes towards sustainability for more sustainability practices in the built environment sector

Mohd Hafir, N. H. B. (2019) The investigation of the interplay between professional identity and attitudes towards sustainability for more sustainability practices in the built environment sector. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

This research aims to gain a better understanding of, and probe the interplay between, the emergence of professional identity (PI) and attitudes towards sustainability of current and future built environment (BE) professionals based on their educational and practice/work experience. The emphasis of the research is on the quantity surveying (QSing) profession. The reason is that the profession plays an essential role as part of the design team. Therefore, the profession has the potential to impact on sustainability. However, there is less research on the QSing profession around sustainability compared to other professions like architects and engineers (Elforgani and Rahmat, 2010). Moreover, there is also not enough evidence to suggest that quantity surveyors (QSs) are actively involved with sustainability (Ma and Luu, 2013). In these regards, this study uses a research framework to interrogate the tensions that exist in the enactment of sustainability by QS professionals; between the views of the greater good (sustainability) and the short-term needs of professionals (e.g. to win work, to satisfy client). Also to probe how the tensions play across various snapshots in the journey starting from as an individual come into the formal professional education to the point where they are practising as a chartered professional. The emergence and interplay are explored through qualitative cross-sectional research based on semi-structured interviews from four categories of participants with ten participants in each category. The participants are QS students (new and final year students), graduates from the University of Reading and chartered quantity surveyors (CQSs) from the southeast of England. The work examines experiences of the complex construct of PI and attitudes towards sustainability with the emphasis being on how current and future professionals perceive and interpret the two concepts that could lead towards more sustainability practices. The research identified that PI is forming and developing as an individual gained more knowledge, skills and experience with one’s profession. Individuals thus are aware of their roles and responsibilities (including sustainability) as professionals. However, the enactment of their professionalism is more towards fulfilling the client’s requirements, i.e. fulfilling obligations that could be considered as opting for the short-term perspective as opposed to the long-term benefits of sustainability. From the data, what are lacking in their current practices are the essential values of a profession particularly concerning a belief in public service (the benefits of sustainability to the wider society). This outcome thus suggests that the profession, professional body and professional educational institution re-evaluate their approaches to reflect and instil the essential values of a profession and develop a strong moral agent for change for, and champion of sustainability.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Lees, T. and Harty, C.
Thesis/Report Department:School of the Built Environment
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of the Built Environment
ID Code:85671

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